The hottest topic today among the parents of school-going children, especially those in high school is related to stress relief.
Stress is a healthy and natural component of life but when it interferes with your routine, it is time to take action and restore the balance. You can recognize stress through various symptoms such as fatigue, sweating, nose blocks, an inexplicable thirst, tired muscles that refuse to cooperate…all this causes your blood to thicken and increases your risk for a heart attack.
Can you overcome stress?
Luckily, there are many instant ways to overcome stress and it is as simple as making lifestyle changes. Coping strategies involve a strong support system, relaxation, exercise, and a positive mental attitude – all of which help keep that balance.
With children, stress manifests in the form of listlessness, a tendency to be cranky, sometimes a loss of appetite leading to all sorts of imagined ailments. Their performance in school drops, they become withdrawn and disinterested in everything. Now obviously not going to school or refusing to eat will not resolve the situation.
We all want our children to be happy, active, and enjoy life. And the good news is, as parents or guardians of children, we can easily ensure that stress does not overtake their lives.
How can we, as parents, help our children stay stress-free?
Just being present in a mindful way in our children’s lives makes a big difference. So does listening and spending family time together. In our house, we are raising a happy teenager in an atmosphere of love and affection. I recently realized that our son, like me, works best fueled by the pressure within him. That’s healthy. He sets high standards for himself and works hard towards them. And we consider it our responsibility to make sure he doesn’t get stressed by spending time with him.
His favorite ways to bust stress are through his hobbies – sketching, singing, listening to music, reading, and enjoying time together as a family, besides spending time with friends. We also encourage him to meditate – and he has found his happy way by sitting for 30 minutes and reciting prayers. It has a visible calming effect on that busy mind.
The thing with children is, most of the time they hesitate to share what goes on in their minds for fear of being ridiculed. It is up to the family to draw them out, make them feel loved, and respect their feelings, letting them know they are worthy good human beings, and capable of achieving their dreams.
In my post at Parentous, I’ve offered some tips to help children stay stress-free.
Helping Children Stay Stress-Free
Today, more than ever before, children are subject to a lot of pressure – peer pressure, performance pressure and of course, pressure from within to keep up with all they have to do. They set their own high standards for themselves, thanks to the competitive environment in which they grow up. Even 96 out of 100 percent is a low score when it comes to competing for all those entrance tests after Class X. Oh yes, the pressure is on in my household too.
I was talking to one of my son’s classmate’s mothers and she was telling me how her daughter had the inherent need to excel in everything she did. Added to this, the desperation to maintain fitness, get high/full marks, and so on. All this stems from the fear of not fitting in. As they tackle their own inner devils, they have other pressures – related to school. Much of it comes from parents, egging on their kids to achieve, achieve, achieve so that they can live up to their dreams. The parents’ dreams, sometimes, and not the children’s. This literally freaks the kids out and impacts everything they do.
Today, my son, who is a talented artist, was worried he couldn’t get a particular face right. From his imagination, on to the paper. Being the rather laid-back Mom that I am – I explained that some days are like that – and he could always have a go at it tomorrow. The face he had drawn looked pretty good to me. But it did not live up to his expectations. I reminded him he had done a lot for the day and told him to ease off and relax. Sometimes that is not the ideal thing to say, as it only gets them more stressed.
How to help them relieve this pressure and stop it from growing worse?
It is important to ensure that children are emotionally and physically healthy. Some great ways are music, sports, and exercise, a hobby, or fun time with friends and family. Here is what we practice in our home:
1. Mealtimes together
We make it a point to have breakfast and dinner together. Lunch is a packed meal, usually. We also prepare the meal together sometimes and have a good time chatting about our day. This is a pleasant way to keep ourselves in a happy mood and encourage our son to express himself and lighten up after he is through with his schoolwork.
2. Getting enough sleep
With all that there is to do, the tendency to stay up late can easily become a habit. Getting enough sleep is important to stay healthy. And children need adequate sleep, especially teens. Regular bedtime, lights out and wake-up times go a long way in ensuring this. The day looks so much brighter when we’re rested.
3. Be a friend
Teenagers need someone they feel comfortable with. As I grew up, my Mom was my favorite person when I needed a confidant or just to rave and rant. Sometimes, when the going is tough, talking about it is a big relief. I am glad that both my husband and I have a good relationship with my son and he is comfortable talking to either of us.
4. Encourage free time
It is not necessary to do something “productive” all the time. Just lazing for a while can be a great way to de-stress. Watching a movie, hanging out with friends, singing, playing music, or simply listening to music can all be ways to unwind and relax.
5. Helping, volunteering
Doing things for others is a fantastic way to get rid of stress. No need to be an expert at something. It also takes the focus away from self while bringing on a sense of feel-good, which naturally leads to a good mood. Some ways my son does these are helping an elderly neighbor with something or spending time with them, reading to them, teaching younger kids, etc.
I am lucky to have a tactile and affectionate son – and cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make teenagers feel loved – and know they’re loveable. While I am all for doing well at school and stuff, I think it is just as important to take time off. Ultimately, all parents want their children to be happy no matter how old they are. And luckily, we don’t have to try too hard to be happy!
What strategies do you recommend for children to stay stress-free?
Relax. It is not so hard. Life looks a lot brighter when you’re alive. Truth.
AH… Am not a parent here 😀 lol… Well, but I can relate here as a child dear.
You are rightly said ~ “The thing with children is, most of the time they hesitate to share what goes on in their mind for fear of being ridiculed.”
I never did 🙂 May be never will. I always hesitate to share what’s on my mind most of the time and now I’m taking few steps forward and say what’s necessary but not all. I have lot of things going in my mind and that’s alright ’cause I’ve used to that since childhood Vidya. Meditation helps me there 🙂
I just wanna take my life as an advice and to have wonderful time with my family and kids in future to give them a better life than mine 🙂 I know how it feels when being abandoned and taking stress for a kid is really hard and can give up everything with the low self-steem. As your son do, my hobbies were reading, writing, playing and then being with computer 🙂 They always helped me to stop to much thinking. I’m grateful for ’em too 🙂
Have a wonderful week Vidya 🙂
Mayura recently posted…How to Schedule Your Social Media Updates with Buffer
Sounds like a wonderful topic most of us can relate to Vidya!
Heading right over to read it right through – thanks for sharing it with all of us. 🙂
Harleena Singh recently posted…Blog Anniversary – Making Merry this Christmas and New Year
You’ve hilighted an often overlooked part of target population of stress – children. True, in today’s fast paced world children bear the brunt of not only their own pressures like studies etc,but also that of their parents’ high-pressure lives, sometimes.
Very timely post!
Sulagna – Love in India recently posted…How I Coped with Being Dumped and Why That’s NOT Going To Help You
Great post and so very important.
I think the key is of course wanting to minimize stress but also and perhaps more important is teaching and having them learn ways to Manage stress. Stress is here to stay and teens are perhaps even more suseptable nowadays, with all the external pressures and standards of excellence.
I think we have to rid ourselves of this attitude of ‘perfectionism’ and extraordinariness and create an acceptable attitude around mistakes and failures. They need to be seen as O.K. and as learning tools towards greater success. It’s only when we fall can we learn to keep getting up and pushing forward towards what we want. Those qualities of perseverence, resourcefulness, problem-solving amoung many others are crucial in managing our stress levels as well.
Like your comment. As a primary teacher, now EFT based practitioner, I would love children to learn about the self help tool -EFT. Children just deal with an issue and forget it. Sadly if they carry the ‘baggage’ into adulthood, the same pattern can rear its head frequently. I am constantly fascinated by all that I am still learning.
I enjoyed reading your post, and this really resonated with me:
“Stress is a healthy and natural component of life but when it interferes with your routine, it is time to take action and restore the balance. ”
Our family is pulling out of a tough past year, my wife was quite ill for a few months, and we are focusing on rebuilding clear and simple routines to help our boys feel less stressed. We can already see the difference from simple adjustments, and it feels good to know there are simple things we can do to make life easier for our two boys.
I’m heading over to read your other post,
Dave Rowley recently posted…the idea catcher
Balance is totally the secret Vidya. Thanks for talking about this important topic for our kids.
My boys are older and I still feel the anxiety and stress.
Perhaps we should all meditate together!
Xxx Love you more.
My Inner Chick recently posted…Blogging Out Loud
I agree that our kids are under a lot of stress. Love your encouragement for your son to meditate. How wonderful to start that at such at early age. That will help him throughout his life time. We do all need to pace ourselves. Take care!
So many times what my daughter needs most when she is stressed is a listening ear and afterwards reassurances that everything will be fine. Too much stress on our children for sure.
I just spent some time catching up on your blog. I especially loved your last post on Inspiration. Always a delight to peer into your life and your culture.
Galen Pearl recently posted…A Warrior of Waiting
children’s are blessings of god. They are the future of every country. So, i think they has to be stress free.
Zimmet Vein & Dermatology – Austin recently posted…Wranglers to the Rescue?
This is such a critically important topic! Vidya, you’re awesome for taking it on. I love how you describe the symptoms of stress – they’re so different from how symptoms are described in the US and so true. I recently watched a show on Netflix about Ayuvedic medicine and doctors in India and soooo loved the vastly different approach to medicine and getting better. The whole approach was dramatically more positive and hopeful than the traditional western approach – and much more effective, even with serious diagnoses.
Although my children are all still young, I try to set an example for them to learn ways of managing stress (although I don’t think they’re feeling much at this point since we unschool). I practice yoga and meditation in the middle of the living room floor and the kids love to join in. Whenever I receive a new copy of Yoga Journal in the mail, they love to open to the spread showing the various asanas in the practice of the month and start acting them out.
Sometimes they’ll be running around crazy and one of them will say, “OK. Let’s meditate!” They drop to the floor, cross their legs and put their hands on their knees in the proper mudra, close their eyes and sit in silence for a moment. Then they’re up playing again.
The other day when I was sitting on a pillow on the floor meditating, my 3 yr. old daughter grabbed her own pillow, placed it in front of me, sat on it in her meditation position, closed her eyes and sat with me in silence. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Thanks for such a terrific article! Hugs!!
Paige | Simple Mindfulness recently posted…30 Days to Bold
Dear Paige. I just loved your comment. I’ve realized that the whole point is to start them young and the best way to do it is by setting that example, at least whenever possible. I believe my Grandmother is responsible for the way I am – I tend not to jump into conclusions, I do not get angry easily and I do listen and absorb a situation before I react. When I was quite young, this used to amuse our family no end. Mind you, it wasn’t as though they expected me to talk back – that wasn’t encouraged at all – but in spite of the restrictions, we had a nice, affectionate atmosphere around the house. That inspired everyone to think before they were about to say something that was not nice.
And so, it was only natural that I would practice the good stuff with Vidur. Oh, I have lovely memories of him sitting with his eyes closed, with great difficulty hands on knees and desperately trying not to grin. Thanks to my Mom who lived with us, he’s just growing up into a good-natured person. Some people assume he’s a softie – but we’re not worried about that, as we have seen instances of his mental strength.
One of the best things to de-stress is focusing on a hobby that brings joy. That means listening quietly to what kids enjoy doing and channeling them in that direction. We’re lucky that Vidur loves music and has great focus.
Yet, with the exam season coming up, stress does peek in.
🙂 I would like us to carry this forward and do that post. 🙂 Hugs! Your comment always enriches what I write!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Make Fear Your Friend
Hi Vidya! 🙂
You are one type of MOTHER every child just like me wants! 🙂
[…] live up to 10 years longer than non-meditators. It’s still not clear why this is, but as stress is such a pernicious and destructive problem it seems plausible that simply by lowering stress […]